Instructional design and assessment
At Albion College, the required course of study in the education program provides ample opportunity to craft lessons and units of study while, simultaneously, investigating the most appropriate method of assessment in each case. For example, one of our projects in EDUC 371: Literacy Pedagogy in the Elementary School involved working with students in the classroom to complete a literacy assessment using a variety of measures (2a,b c,g). The purpose of this was to develop an understanding of student comprehension, the uses of various methods, and the ways in which these assessments may guide further instruction. However, this was not the only instance in which we utilized various assessments as almost every class included writing lessons and teaching and consequently, involved assessment as well. During student teaching, I developed a unit of study based on the standards and benchmarks of the Michigan Curriculum Framework and the assessment objectives based on the Grade Level Content Expectations (2a,c,f). Not only did this require one to consider the relationship between instruction and assessment, it also forced one to consider other less salient features of instruction such as time management and planning (2h).
Despite having a guide to instruction, the experiences in the classroom during student teaching also illustrated the importance of modifying and adapting lessons and activities for diverse learners (2d, e,j). Although crucial, this was sometimes as easy as having a paraprofessional scribe for a student, utilizing both written and oral responses (as well as anecdotal notes and conferences) to ensure that students were given a voice and a means for demonstrating their understanding. These accommodations could also involve providing extensions to the regular lesson for those who quickly grasped the material, or providing afterschool time to work more closely with struggling students. Regarding the latter, I worked with a small group of students and the mentor teacher in a Thursday afternoon math tutoring session. During this time, we would revisit concepts addressed in class and tackle problems in a number of different ways to help students understand conceptually what these ideas meant (2e.,j). As an educator, it was also important to remember that my values and beliefs may affect instruction and teaching as much as the students’ values and beliefs may affect their behavior and learning (2d). This involved listening to the students to understand the perspective and experiences which shaped their learning.
Lastly, literacy was at the core of much of what we did in the classroom. This included reading bar graphs and charts in math, creating Venn diagrams in science, or studying a historical timeline (2i). We also spent time discussing various genres of writing and the structural and functional features of these genres. This included using fiction and non-fiction texts in our investigations, as well as allowing students the opportunity to practice writing for a variety of purposes (2i).